Neon Trees had a big 2010. After getting plucked from the Provo music scene to tour with The Killers in 2008, they finally dropped their first studio album Habits (Amazon) with plenty of buzz and exposure. First single “Animal” went platinum, and after hearing it a zillion times I grew to quite like it and bought the album which spent weeks in our car on repeat. Second single “1983” has not done as well (speaking sales; it’s on San Francisco radio nonstop), but every song on Habits sounds like a hit and I imagine we’ll be hearing more from Neon Trees at busstops and clubs around the world for years to come.
In case you’re not hip to their jive, man, here’s what they sound like, both album and live: Continue reading “Dreams for the Future: Neon Trees in 2025”
Craig McClean profiles Brandon Flowers for The Daily Telegraph and one section that stands out to me:
None the less, last year he told the Tribune newspaper in Salt Lake City ““ the Mormon faith’s heart, the capital city of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ““ ‘my faith influences the songs I don’t write’.
What did he mean by that? ‘Yes!’ That gasp-laugh again. ‘Uh, I’ve often, I do, you know, we’ve all got our … hah…’ He’s squirming. ‘I definitely have a darker side. And a more sinister, maybe more sexual, being inside me that I think everybody’s got.
‘And I believe that because of what I believe, and because of the way that I was raised, and as I’ve got older, I’ve leant towards ““ I’ve pushed towards being that positive force that I always talk about. That’s kind of where I’d rather be. I know that it’s not”¦’ He stops and gathers his thoughts. ‘I know it’s frowned upon in art to put a muzzle on something. But I definitely do it.’
This harks back to Flowers’ most famous line and one of the Killers’ most famous songs. Crowds around the world have roared along to the declamatory high point of All These Things That I Have Done: ‘I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier’. In writing it the singer was acknowledging the struggles he had sticking to the strictures of his faith. But now it seems he’s resolved that on one level. Whereas many musicians use songs for exactly this purpose, Flowers won’t give vent to his baser feelings in song.
‘Yes,’ he nods. ‘So it’s a struggle. I wonder if it’s legit. But I can’t help but go for the good I guess. Especially after having children ““ I think, what kind of mark do I wanna leave? For the most part, that’s the person that I am. I think I’m a positive and optimistic person.’
I find this idea utterly fascinating and completely defensible. Brother Flowers may not be quite the role model for orthodox Mormons (nor would he claim to be), but in a world where the notion of self-censorship is anathema for most artists (even as they — we — all do it on some level), I find his honesty about all this to be rather radical middle.
Last night I was reading the second chapter of Seth Lerer’s Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language (Amazon), and was struck by a phrase from Archbishop Wulfstan’s 1014 sermon Sermo Lupi ad Anglos, a phrase that Lerer calls “as powerfully alliterative as anything in poetry” (35): “Ac worhtan lust us to lage” (or as Lerer renders it: “but we have made pleasure our law”).
That’s a chilling idea, although I suppose it’s a bit comforting that it could be said almost 10 centuries ago. But it’s also, as Lerer notes, a wonderfully evocative way of putting things. It sent my mind spinning off in to the world of language and especially of phrases that poetically call to me and it soon lit on another phrase, one used by that great post-punk-inflected-with-funk Minneapolis band the Suburbs (Wikipedia), a band that has been on my mind lately because of the death of guitarist Bruce Allen, and used to great effect, I think, because it captures the inherent contradictory impulses of our fallen natures (but that need not contradict because of the atonement, there’s always that caveat, thank goodness), that is Love is the Law. Continue reading “Lust, lage, love, feeling, sensation, soul”